T-Mobile crows of 'gangbusters' store traffic as iPhone 5 goes on sale

T-Mobile USA is brimming with confidence about its launch of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) LTE-capable iPhone 5.

"Today has been gangbusters for T-Mobile," T-Mobile CMO Mike Sievert said in a statement to AllThingsD on Friday. "We experienced lines out the door this morning at nearly all of our almost 3,000 stores nationwide." T-Mobile began selling the iPhone 5 in its store nationwide Friday and also started selling the iPhone 4S and 4 in select markets.

"Clearly they want the iPhone 5, and they are voting with their feet that they want it from T-Mobile," Sievert said. It's difficult to quantify how many iPhone sales or customer additions "gangbusters" translate into, and T-Mobile has not said how many iPhones it sold during its first weekend of sales.

Customers with good credit can buy the iPhone 5 from T-Mobile for $100 down and 24 monthly payments of $20. This is a departure from the traditional wireless phone model in which operators subsidize the cost of the phone in exchange for a two-year contract.

T-Mobile is also letting existing iPhone users to switch to T-Mobile's network. For those customers who bring in their existing iPhones, T-Mobile said it would eliminate the $99 fee for its iPhone 5. And, depending on the trade-in value of the customer's iPhone, T-Mobile said it would also issue up to $120 in credit that customers could apply to their monthly service bill, device payments or the purchase of accessories or another device.

BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk noted that Apple updated its own website to highlight T-Mobile's contract-free offering. Interestingly, Piecyk noted that a "full price" iPhone is cheaper at T-Mobile than it is at Apple's online store--Apple is selling the 16 GB iPhone 5 for $649 compared with $579 through T-Mobile.  

"The difference is a promotional subsidy within T-Mobile's new strategy," he wrote. "This promotion will ultimately expire which will not only increase the 'full price' phone at T-Mobile to $649 but also the financed iPhone to $149 from $99. The lack of available subsidy at the Apple store also eliminates the ability for Apple to promote a $99 iPhone 5."

A T-Mobile spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. T-Mobile executives have heavily promoted the $99 up-front cost of the iPhone 5.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this CNET article
- see this BTIG blog post (reg. req.)

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